LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles police have arrested about 11 anti-Wall Street demonstrators who entered a Bank of America during a downtown march by hundreds of people.
The arrests Thursday afternoon came at the end of a demonstration that moved among high-rises housing the offices of banks and other financial institutions.
The march eventually took over an intersection and a small group entered the Bank of America branch.
Police Cmdr. Blake Chow says the group sat down in the lobby and refused requests by the manager and employees to leave. Police were then called.
The arrestees were cheered as they were taken away to police vans.
Chow says civil disobedience had been expected, but he says there has been no violence.The demonstration appeared to be breaking up after about two hours.
|@ Waltarrrrr : Just went by @OccupyLA at City Hall. I think they're going to need a bigger lawn. #growing|
Photos by Associated Press.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is expanding. To the desert. [INSERT COACHELLA JOKE HERE] But seriously. Palm Desert has an unemployment rate of 20 percent and its residents are feeling the heat. For more on this story, check out Palm Desert Patch.
According to KTLA, the group of ten where arrested after trying to cash a 3 billion check and then refusing to leave.
The check was, of course, made out to the "people of California," notes KTLA. See their video report for more on today's protest:
While organizers claim that 11 were arrested, LAPD told LA Weekly that just 10 were, for "trespassing at B of A." Check out the LA Weekly for more info.
The protest is winding down now, and David Lagstein of the Refund California Campaign debriefed us over the phone about today's action.
Scheduled over a month ago by the Refund California Campaign (a coalition of groups like SEIU and ACCE), the movement got a lot of extra wind in their sails with the support of the Occupy LA protesters.
Lagstein emphasized the coalition's common goals with OccupyLA, saying, "we share the outrage at Wall Street banks and the damage they've done to homeowners and communities."
Speaking specifically about the Refund California Campaign, he said, "our vision and our commitment is to use the fuel to impact policy change."
As for the 11 people arrested today? Lagstein says, "we're trying to make sure those people come out." "We might go down there and picket in solidarity," he continued, "but we're trying to figure all that out."
The promo video for today's action: tragic homeowner testimonies with a side of protest dance party thrown in.
SEIU sent out a press release an hour ago with more details about the protest.
According to the union, the protesters number more than 1,000 people and have already achieved some concrete victories.
There was also an update from Rose Gudiel, the woman who was arrested last night after protesting her family's foreclosure:
I’d like to announce that the bank called me today to arrange a meeting, to discuss a modification proposal from Fannie Mae. I have also learned that my eviction has been canceled. We are very happy that they have finally come to the table, and I hope they are serious about negotiating a reasonable modification, which is what I have been requesting for over two years. And I hope that they will change their policies to stop taking the homes the thousands of hardworking families facing preventable foreclosure. Thank you.
|@ LALabor : 11 arrests in civil disobedience occupying #BofA lobby in LA @owsbot @OccupyLA #MakeBanksPay #1u #p2|
Photo of protesters outside Bank of America by @Jon2theG.
|@ LALabor : Thank you, LAPD police @lapdhqtrs for respecting protestors and those arrested #ows #1u #2p|
|@ anthonyvulin : “@kwDTLA: #occupyla #occupywallst Seventh and Figueroa intersection closed. Wow! So many cops! http://t.co/SXHGBdQe” #DTLA #LA 7th and Fig|
Photo by @kwDTLA
|@ aggroskin92 : http://t.co/rijPoTDj people being booked escorted to the police van @OccupyLA|
Photo via @OccupyLA
Freelance producer and multimedia artist PJ Davenport gave The Huffington Post an eyewitness account of what she saw when she marched through Downtown LA:
I could see US Bank, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo from California Plaza. When you looked up at the sky, you could literally see 30-foot skyscrapers towering over us protesters with gigantic bank logos. It was quite a compelling sight.
Everyone gathered together: men of the cloth, former veterans, the LGBT flag was flying high. Riot police trucks are headed toward the demonstrators, but there have been no arrests. From what I can tell, it appears to be a precautionary measure.
Davenport was frank about the reason she was part of the Occupy movement:
I am 46 years old and in my lifetime, I have watched the American dream go down the tubes. The things that we were promised, the things that we were told to work for, to strive for, to achieve -- things like an education, homes, investments -- we worked, we did what they said, and we're watching these things being taken away.
And they're off! The occupiers, joined by mainstream union and SEIU, as well as a constellation of other organizations like Answer.org and ACCE, met at City Hall for about 45 minutes before marching down to California Plaza on Grand Avenue.
Here's a photo of the march, courtesy of occupier PJ Davenport.